But a few days ago the painful news reached us of the death of our lamented brother in the ministry, Rev. R. S. Reed, Corresponding Secretary of our Board of Missions--one of the most important and responsible positions in the Church, which he filled with great honor and efficiency--and now comes the sad word that Dr. Milton Bird is no more.
Truly, a pillar of the Church has fallen, but, thank God, the superstructure remains in its majesty and strength. It defies the power of time, and the devices of man. Well said the prophet: "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night." In the heat of action a leader falls, instantly another, from the staff or ranks, assumes command. The battle goes on. So in the Christian warfare a strong man may be struck down, and the grief-stricken people may be ready to despond; but they may rest assured that the Lord will provide, that his standard will be borne full high and onward by other hands, and that final victory is sure. The fall of a captain of the host may call for greater devotion, for greater sacrifices, on the part of the survivors; yet, as of old, champions will be raised up in God's own time, and the army of the Lord will continue to march readily on from conquest to conquest.
Of Dr. Bird's last illness we have, as yet, only a few particulars. For ten days before his death he was in a state of stupor, and spoke but little. In another column of this issue of our paper, will be found a worthy tribute, called forth from Dr. Richard Beard, when the intelligence first reached him of the death of his ministerial brother and personal friend. His words are from the heart and to the heart.
Dr. Bird was no ordinary man, as the many and various positions
of prominence he occupied in the Church during his life, fully
testify. As a writer of note, and of marked ability, he is known
to the whole Church. The amount of work he performed in his career
was immense. His industry was indefatigable. His wisdom, his correct
judgment, his well-tempered views on all subjects pertaining to
the welfare and progress of the Church, made him a trusted leader
and a safe counsellor. In our judicatories the vacancy caused
by his death will be felt. May his mantle fall on one worthy to
fill his place.
[Source: Banner of Peace, August 5, 1871, page 4]
To the Bethlehem Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons No 451.
Your committee, to whom was referred the duty of drawing up a suitable report in regard to the death of Rev. M. Bird, D.D., a member and former Master of this Lodge, mournfully submit the following report:
Our beloved brother, Milton Bird was born in Barren county, Kentucky, October 23, 1807, and died at his residence in Caldwell county, Ky., on July 26, 1871. Bro. Bird was not only "bright" in the work, but truly loved the principles of Masonry. Its ethical system was far more dear to him than its symbols and ceremonies. These, with him, were only the media through which principles found expression and were conveyed. Hence, he was a Mason in conduct. He lived within the triangle of the great lights and was irradiated by them. He was not one of those Masons only seen when gorgeous regalia glitter in the sunshine, when banners kiss the balmy breeze, and sweet music loads the air with melody; but in the quiet retreat of the Lodge-room where work was to be done, to execute the appointed task of the fraternity. He observed a due proportion between labor and refreshment, never shirking the former, never abusing the latter.
Bro. Bird was an active, zealous, and faithful minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In the stormy period from '61 to '66, when other churches were rent asunder, he, in the true spirit of a devoted Christian and Mason, "spread the cement of brotherly love and affection--that cement which unites us in one sacred band"--and he died leaving his church a unit, "keeping the unity of the spirit in the in the bonds of peace." In view of this sad dispensation of Providence, we recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:
Resolved, 1. That, in the death of our much esteemed Bro. Bird, Masonry has lost one of its great lights--one of its ablest advocates both in precept and example.
Resolved, 2. That, while we as as Lodge deeply feel the loss sustained by us in his death, yet we bow in humble submission to the will of the Grand Master above, who has called him from his labor below to his rest above.
Resolved, 3. That we deeply sympathize with his bereaved widow and sorrowing children, and tender them a wide place in our feelings and affections.
Resolved, 4. That we offer our condolence to his shepherdless flock, and join with a smitten community in mourning the death of one beloved, trusted, and revered by us all.
Resolved, 5. That we wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.
Resolved, 6. That a copy of these resolutions be furnished by the Secretary to the family of our deceased brother; also a copy to the editors of the Kentucky Freemason, the Banner of Peace and the Cumberland Presbyterian for publication.
G. W. ADAMSON,
J. H. LEECH,
J. B. MATT,
[Source: Banner of Peace [Nashville, Tennessee], August 19, 1871, page 1]
Since the publication of the short notice of Dr. Bird's death, two weeks ago, I have received some items from his family, which, in conformity with their request, I combine with other facts, of which I have had personal knowledge, in a more extended account of his life and death.
Milton Bird was born October 23, 1807, in Barren county, Ky. He was, therefore, in his sixty-fourth year at the time of his death. His parents were Robert and Rachel Bird. February 20, 1824, he made a profession of religion, and, on the 13th of August following joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. October 14, 1825, he was received as a candidate for the ministry by Logan Presbytery, and was licensed to preach October 12, 1826. In April, 1830, he was ordained as an evangelist by the same Presbytery.
In the early summer of 1831, by appointment of the General Assembly, a number of Cumberland Presbyterian ministers visited Western Pennsylvania. In the fall of that year, they were joined by Mr. Bird, who, it will be perceived, was still a young man, and quite a young preacher. The circumstances which surrounded him in Pennsylvania, gave something of a polemic cast to his labors, which they retained, in some degree, always modified, however, by an excellent Christian spirit, to the close of his life.
In August, 1841, he assumed the control of the "Union Evangelist," which had been originated in June, 1840, by Rev. John Morgan. The paper was published at Uniontown, Pennsylvania. At this place, in 1845, he commenced the publication of the "Theological Medium," which developed itself into the "Medium and Quarterly." This publication was continued, with one or two short intervals, to the commencement of the late war.
In 1847 Mr. Bird left Pennsylvania, and came to Louisville, Ky., where he took charge of the "Book Concern." Here in July, 1850, he began the publication of the "Watchman and Evangelist."
In 1855 he removed to Princeton, Ky., and took charge of Princeton and Bethlehem congregations. For a time, also, he held a nominal connection with Old Cumberland College, as its President. In 1856 he published his work on the "Doctrines of Grace."
In 1858 he went to St. Louis, and for a year edited the "Saint Louis Observer," in connection with his "Medium and Quarterly." When the war commenced, he removed to Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was intended to be a retirement from the storm. In 1864 he returned to Caldwell county, and again took charge of Bethlehem congregation, together with the congregation at Fredonia. The labor of his two last years, however, was confined to Bethlehem.
Dr. Bird was attacked on the 18th of July with a violent form of congestion, affecting chiefly the stomach and bowels. From the first there was hardly a hope of his recovery. His vital powers seemed completely prostrated. He conversed but little. Says my informant, however, "In addition to the accumulated evidence of a long life, he left sufficient and satisfactory evidence of his readiness to die." He died on the 26th of July, about 5 o'clock P.M. The funeral services were performed by Rev. Wm. C. Love, at 3 o'clock the following day, when the remains of the departed were buried near the spot where the old camp-meeting shed stood in former days. It is a hallowed place. Scores of persons who have preceded our brother to heaven, first embraced the Saviour, and rejoiced in his salvation, under that old camp-meeting shed.
Dr. Bird was married on the 4th of November, 1834, to Elizabeth A. Dunham, of Uniontown, Pa. He leaves a widow and seven children, five children having preceded him to the grave. It is said that, from the time of his marriage to his death, he was uniform in his attendance at the General Assemblies, with one exception; and at that time he was prevented by sickness. In 1850 he was appointed Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, which office he filled up to his death.
In 1857, in connection with Rev. A. M. Bryan, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the Trustees and Faculty of Cumberland University. This was the second occasion on which such a degree was conferred by the authorities of the University, the first being the occasion upon which Rev. Herschel S. Porter received the degree in 1851.
Dr. Bird was Moderator of the General Assembly in 1842 at Owensboro; in 1848 at Memphis; in 1851 at Pittsburgh; in 1856 at Louisville; in 1863 at Alton. On eight occasions he preached the introductory sermons of the General Assembly.
It will be seen, from these statements, that he has acted a very prominent part in the operations of this church for thirty-five or forty years. Dr. Bird is a conspicuous example of what industry, perseverance, and unswerving fidelity to the great principles of truth and duty, will do for a man under very great disadvantages. His early education was defective; his habits of communication were embarrassed; he was always poor, and had the care of a large family; yet he early became one of our first men, and maintained that position, by an unquestioned right, for a greater number of years than most men are permitted to labor in the ministry. Nor were labor and earnest application wearing him out. In his place in the last Assembly he presented the prospect of years of labor still. When overtaken by the disease which carried him off, he had his armor on. His annual protracted meeting had been appointed; the young man, who had been called from a distance to assist him, knew nothing of his affliction until he reached the neighborhood. It turned out that the young man came to see his father in the ministry die. During his sickness, although terribly prostrated in mind and body, the thoughts of the good man still occasionally turned to the appointed meeting. Says my young friend from whom I have received many of these particulars:
"I never witnessed a more distressing scene than that which followed his death. His family were very much devoted to him, as was also the entire community where he has labored for the last seven years. No one could have been more universally respected and beloved. This was especially so with the young, to whom he had devoted a large share of his attention for the last two years. The funeral service was attended by a very large audience--the largest that has assembled there since the days of camp-meetings."
I close this brief and imperfect sketch. It is a melancholy tribute to the memory of departed worth. I have stated, heretofore, that I felt the loss to be the loss of a friend. In 1842 I first really became acquainted with Dr. Bird, and began to feel an interest in him. Our views of what is called church-policy, have generally coincided. It was thus an easy matter for this interest to be increased. He has been one of the pillars of strength in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. We need more of such pillars; but he is taken from us. Yet God is righteous. His will be done! He will take care of his church; we know that. We think he will take care of this Church for which we so earnestly labor. Will he not? It is but sixty years old, but it has holy memories. It has furnished good men and true--men, too, mighty in conflict. A catalogue of the names of such would be long. We will not, then, be discouraged while we are making such a record for the Church on earth, as well as the Church in heaven.
[Source: Banner of Peace (Nashville, Tennessee), August 26, 1871, page 4]
MILTON BIRD was born October 23, 1807, in Barren county, Kentucky. His parents were Robert and Rachel Bird. Of his parentage and early life little is known except the name of his parents. It is supposed that the worldly circumstances of his father's family were ordinary, and that his education was such as was common to boys in Kentucky in the early part of the century. It is certain that his early advantages were so restricted as to have made it necessary for him to become what he did become by his own personal efforts. He was, in the most practical sense of the expression, a self-made man. His principal literary attainments were made, too, after he entered the ministry.
On the 20th of February, 1824, he made a profession of religion. He was then in his seventeenth year. On the 13th of August of the same year he connected himself with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
On the 14th of October of the following year, 1825, he was received as a candidate for the ministry by the Logan Presbytery. Alexander Chapman and William Harris were the controlling spirits of the Presbytery at that time. It would be judged, from his subsequent life, and from the high estimate which he is known to have placed upon these men, that they succeeded in infusing a large measure of their own spirit him.
October 12, 1826, he was licensed as a probationer, and in April, 1830, he was set apart by ordination to the whole work of the ministry. Mr. Bird retained as long as he lived, and carried to his grave, a deep impression of the solemnity of this transaction, and of the obligations which it imposed. He sometimes referred to it in his sermons, and never without obvious interest and tenderness of feeling, often bringing tears to the eyes of his hearers. He was ordained as an evangelist.
In the early summer of 1831, a number of ministers, under an appointment of the General Assembly as missionaries, visited Western Pennsylvania. In the fall of that year they were joined by Mr. Bird, who, it will be perceived, was still a young man, and quite a young preacher. Cumberland Presbyterianism in Pennsylvania was a new thing, and it excited, of course, some awakening, and some opposition. The religious crust was broken which had hardened upon the surface of society, and some agitation followed. It was inevitable that the labors of the missionaries should receive something of a polemic cast. Mr. Bird was one of those who remained in the country. There were, consequently, frequent calls upon him, as well as upon the others, for their theological status, as well as the theological status of the Church. Explanations of subjects growing out of such inquiries could not be made without bringing them into collision with what was considered something like the established order of things. These circumstances threw Mr. Bird almost of necessity into the attitude of a controversialist. He retained something of this cast of character through life, always modified, however, by an excellent Christian spirit. When assailed, his replies, although not bitter and acrimonious, were always bold and fearless. His hearers knew where he stood.
He served for some time as pastor of the Waynesburg Congregation. After that he was for a number of years pastor of Pleasant Hill Congregation, in Washington county.
In 1840, he moved to Uniontown, and became connected with Madison College, as Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy and Natural Theology. He was appointed to this position as the successor of Rev. John Morgan. He gave instruction in that institution during the collegiate year of 1841-1842, and in the spring of 1842 resigned, in consequence of some difficulty between the President and some of the Trustees. This difficulty resulted in severing the connection between the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania and Madison College--a connection which at one time promised to be a matter of some interest to the Church.
In 1841, Mr. Bird assumed control of the Union Evangelist, the publication of which had been commenced the previous year by Mr. Morgan. In connection with his other work, after the death of Mr. Morgan, he served the congregation in Uniontown for some time, as pastor or supply.
At this place he commenced, in 1845, the publication of the Theological Medium. This was published for several years monthly, in pamphlet form. It afterward became the Medium and Quarterly. This publication was continued, with one or two short intervals, to the commencement of the late war. It is said that for seven or eight of his latter years in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bird preached very extensively, and that his influence in all the congregations and judicatures of the Church was very great--almost supreme.
In 1847, Mr. Bird left Pennsylvania and moved to Louisville, or rather to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and took charge of the "Book Concern" in Louisville. The General Assembly of 1845 had taken the initiatory steps toward the entrance of the Church upon the work of publication. At Louisville, in July, 1850, he commenced the publication of the Watchman and Evangelist. This paper had a respectable circulation, and acquired altogether a respectable reputation.
In 1855, he removed to Princeton, Kentucky, and took charge of Princeton and Bethlehem Congregations. For some time, also, he held a nominal connection with Old Cumberland College, as its President. The connection, however, was nominal only, with the exception of his holding the customary religious services.
In 1858, he went to St. Louis, and for a year edited the St. Louis Observer, in connection with his Medium and Quarterly. When the war commenced he removed to Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was intended to be a retirement from the storm.
After the meeting of the General Assembly in Owensboro, in 1862, at the earnest request, it was understood, of some conservative leading members of the Church in Kentucky, he undertook a journey southward, with a view to conciliating and quieting the minds of Southern congregations and ministers, as far as he could reach them, and preventing a division of the Church. He visited Nashville and Lebanon, but, it is believed, went no farther. The passions of the people were very much inflamed, and he could have done but little. God in his providence, however, kept the Church together.
At the Assembly at Alton, in 1863, Dr. Bird was Moderator, and, of course, opened the next Assembly, which met at Lebanon, Ohio, with the customary sermon. The sermon produced some dissatisfaction, and was afterward published by Dr. Bird himself as a matter of self-vindication. This is mentioned as a prominent fact connected with the life of the author. It is not the place, however, to consider the merits of the sermon, or the circumstances out of which the publication arose.
In 1864, he returned to Caldwell county, Kentucky, and took charge of Bethlehem Congregation, in connection with the congregation at Fredonia. The labor of his two last years was confined to Bethlehem.
Dr. Bird was a member of the General Assembly at Nashville, in 1871, and seemed to be in ordinary health and spirits. In the course of the preceding year he had been conducting a correspondence with prominent men of the Evangelical Union Church of Scotland. Both himself and the Assembly were deeply interested in the correspondence. It had been managed on his part to the satisfaction of the Assembly, and he was requested to continue it. No one could have anticipated what was so soon to follow. On the 18th of July, however, two months only after the Assembly, he was attacked with a violent form of congestion, affecting chiefly the stomach and bowels. From the first there was hardly a hope of his recovery. His vital powers seemed completely prostrated. He conversed but little. Says my informant, however: "In addition to the accumulated evidence of a long life, he left sufficient and satisfactory assurance of his readiness to depart." He died on the 26th of July, about 5 o'clock P.M. The funeral-services were performed by Rev. Wm. C. Love, the oldest minister of the Presbytery, and a former pastor of the congregation, at 3 o'clock the following day. Dr. Bird was a Mason, and his remains were buried with Masonic honors as well as sincere Christian respect. The spot selected for the burial was near where the old camp-meeting shed stood in former days. Where the shed had stood, camp-meetings had been held annually, until within a few years past, for the space of fifty years. Scores, scores of sinners had been converted on that ground. It is worthy of remark that Mr. Love, the officiating minister upon the occasion of the funeral, followed his friend to the grave in the course of a few months.
Dr. Bird was married on the 4th of November, 1834, to Miss Elizabeth A. Dunham, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He left her a widow with seven children. Five of their children had preceded him to the grave.
In 1857, in connection with Rev. A. M. Bryan, of Pittsburgh, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the Trustees and Faculty of Cumberland University. This was the second occasion on which such a degree had been conferred by the authorities of the University, the first being the occasion on which Rev. Herschel S. Porter received the degree, in 1851.
Dr. Bird was remarkable for his punctuality in attending the judicatures of the Church. It is said that from his marriage to his death he was uniform in his attendance at the General Assembly with one exception, and at that time he was prevented by sickness. Thirty-seven Assemblies had intervened, and at thirty-six he was present. He was Moderator of the General Assembly at Owensboro, in 1842; at Memphis, in 1848; at Pittsburgh, in 1851; at Louisville, in 1856; and at Alton, in 1863. At Clarksville, in 1850, he was appointed Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, as successor of Rev. Cornelius G. McPherson. On eight occasions he preached the introductory-sermons to the General Assembly. The last occasion upon which he officiated thus was at the opening of the Assembly at Owensboro, in 1866. The Moderator of the former Assembly had died in the interim, Rev. Hiram Douglas, and Dr. Bird preached by request.
It will be observed from these statements that he acted a very prominent part in the operations of this Church during thirty-five or forty years. Dr. Bird is a conspicuous example of what industry, perseverance, and unfaltering fidelity to the great principles of truth and duty will do for a man under very great disadvantages. His early education was defective; his habits of communication were embarrassed; he was always poor, and for years had the care of a large family; yet he early became one of our first men, and maintained that position by an unquestioned right for a greater number of years than most men are permitted to labor in the ministry. Nor were labor and earnest application wearing him out. As it has been intimated, in his place at the last Assembly which he attended he presented the prospect of years of labor still. When overtaken by the disease which carried him off, he had his armor on. His annual protracted-meeting had been appointed; the young man who had been called from a distance to assist him knew nothing of his affliction until he reached the neighborhood. It turned out that the young man came to see his father in the ministry die. During his sickness, although terribly prostrated in body and mind, the thoughts of the good man still turned occasionally to the appointed meeting. Says my informant, from whom I have received many of these particulars:
"I never witnessed a more distressing scene than that which followed his death. His family were much devoted to him, as was also the entire community where he has labored for the last seven years. No one could have been more universally respected and beloved. This was especially so with the young, to whom he had devoted a large share of his attention for the last two years. The funeral-service was attended by a very large audience--the largest that has assembled there since the days of camp-meetings."
Dr. Bird did something in the way of authorship. The most of the sermons delivered at the openings of the several Assemblies in which it has been mentioned that he thus officiated were published in the Theological Medium and in the Medium and Quarterly. The sermon delivered at Lebanon, Ohio, was published in pamphlet form.
In 1856, he published a work on the "Doctrines of Grace." This work is understood to have originally grown out of a controversy which commenced in Pennsylvania. A minister of another denomination, in a published sermon, endeavored indirectly to show that Cumberland Presbyterianism, theoretically at least, excluded the gracious features of the gospel, and when understood was nothing better than a legal theology. It was the old polemic resort--an attempt to make it appear that a people must believe what they never thought of believing, or that they stultified themselves. It was a pressing into service of the odium theologicum in an argument. Such is always a poor, and sometimes a mean, resort. The object of Dr. Bird's work is to show what a gracious system of theology is, and that Cumberland Presbyterians embrace such a system in its fullest and most scriptural sense. At his death he left in manuscript an extended biographical sketch of Rev. Alexander Chapman, which has since been published by our Board of Publication. It is a very respectable sketch of the life and labors of a good man.
My personal recollections of Dr. Bird are rather extended, and are certainly very agreeable. Our relations, however, were not very intimate--such only as men form at meetings of the judicatures of the Church; but I think I knew him well. I first saw him at the General Assembly at Princeton, Kentucky, in 1835. Our acquaintance there was merely a passing one. I heard him preach once on that occasion. I have a distinct recollection of the sermon and the text: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this," etc. I had not been in the habit of hearing such sermons, and it appeared to me to be the work of a man of promise. He and John Morgan and Alfred M. Bryan were all young men from Pennsylvania.
My real acquaintance with him, however, commenced at the Assembly of 1843, at Owensboro, Kentucky. He delivered the opening-sermon on that occasion. It was rather a stormy Assembly. Old and difficult questions came before the meeting, arising out of the Assembly's former connection with Cumberland College. Mr. Bird and myself were on the same side of the Church politics, and our sympathies, of course, brought us into closer relations. We combined with others, and together we succeeded in an effort to keep off the meeting of the next Assembly two years, to give time for the passions of men to become cool.
Near the end of 1843, a few of us were called together at Russellville, Kentucky. In the call made upon us, it was expressed as the consideration that Judge Broadnax, an aged member of the Church, who had acquired considerable wealth, but had no family, desired some counsel on the subject of disposing of his property at his death. The understanding was that he desired to give it to the Church upon certain conditions, or under certain restrictions. Mr. Bird was called from Pennsylvania. I had the honor of being called into the conference myself, with Rev. F. C. Usher, at that time my colleague in Cumberland College. The other members were Rev. Thomas Calhoon and Rev. John L. Dillard. The meeting proved to be a great farce. We could not accept the conditions submitted by our friend. They seemed to us, whether designed or undesigned on the part of the Judge, to affect the integrity of the Church, and self-respect, as well as fidelity to our ordination-vows, required but one course on our part. The result was that Judge Broadnax soon left the Church, and took his money with him. He found new friends who very readily received his benefactions. Mr. Bird returned to his work in Pennsylvania, and the rest of us in like manner to our charges. The Church was no richer from the conference.
Mr. Bird was a prominent member of the Assembly in 1845. A memorial came before the Assembly praying an exposition of the tenth chapter of the Form of Government. This chapter was framed with a view to the Synod's continuing the highest judicature of the Church. When the General Assembly took the place of the Synod, the committee appointed to frame a chapter for the organization and government of the Assembly neglected to change the chapter relating to the Synod, and adapt it to the new order of things. It became a source of constant trouble. The memorial was referred to a committee, of which Mr. Bird was chairman. His report was an intelligent exposition of the whole subject conformed to the spirit of the Form of Government rather than to the letter. The report was adopted, and became at once practically the law of the Church. I speak of this occurrence here for the reason that I was myself the Moderator, and selected the committee with a particular view to the chairman.
I extract the following from the Minutes of the General Assembly of 1850:
"Brother T. C. Anderson offered the following preamble and resolution, which were unanimously adopted:
"WHEREAS, The Assembly of 1849 authorized and requested the Trustees of Cumberland College and Cumberland University to take measures for the establishment of Theological Departments in these institutions; and,
"WHEREAS, The Trustees of Cumberland University have reported to this Assembly their acceptance of the overture of the last Assembly, and their readiness to cooperate with the Assembly in this enterprise, and it is understood that the Trustees of Cumberland College are also ready to cooperate with the Assembly; therefore,
"Resolved, That a committee of seven, a majority of whom shall be competent to act, be appointed by this body to mature a plan for the establishment of Theological Departments in said institutions, and report the result of their deliberations to a subsequent Assembly.
"On motion, Brothers Roach, Anderson, and ______ were appointed a committee to report suitable nominations to constitute said committee, who reported R. Beard, D.D., T. C. Anderson, Milton Bird, Hon. N. Green, Prof. A. Freeman, David Lowry, and R. R. Landsden, which report was unanimously adopted."
The day before the meeting of the General Assembly in 1852, a majority of this committee, consisting of the chairman and Messrs. Anderson, Bird, and Lowry, met at Nashville and framed the plan of the present Theological Department in Cumberland University.
It will thus be seen that Dr. Bird and the writer were connected in some of the most important transactions of the Church. I ought to have known him; and, as I have said, I think I did know him.
These recollections might be continued, but I forbear. A full sketch of the life and labors of Dr. Bird would enter largely into a history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for a quarter of a century, from his connection with it as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and from his attendance at its meetings, and his extensive influence upon its measures. Mention may be made before I close of his last introductory-sermon to an Assembly. It was delivered at Owensboro, in 1866. The occasion was a delicate one. It was the first Assembly of the whole Church after the war. It was largely attended. There was a great deal of inflammable material. In a very short time after we met he was kind enough to urge upon me that I should allow my name to used in connection with a measure in the organization of the Assembly, with a view to the promotion of peace. I yielded to what seemed to be an earnest desire, provided that he and other wise and good men thought that the measure would be promotive of peace. He preached the sermon by request. It was an effort to promote peace. There may have been extremists who were not satisfied, but the sermon was intended to be oil upon the troubled waters. By the mass of the assembled delegates it was certainly appreciated. The Assembly was organized in conformity with the plan for peace. We have had peace. How far these measures, which were at least well meant, may have contributed to this end, He alone knows who has overruled and directed all. We had to some extent a stormy Assembly, but still God gave us wisdom and grace, and we did not divide the Church. There was a triumph of principle over passion. Long may it be remembered as a matter of gratitude and thanksgiving!
I have great regard for Dr. Bird's memory. I loved him; I honored him. This Church has produced as good and as great men, but it has never produced one more unselfishly devoted to its great interests, or one less disposed to compromise the great principles of what he regarded as truth and duty, than Dr. Bird.
I add a paragraph from the Banner of Peace of August 19, 1871. It is a Masonic testimony. Dr. Bird was a Mason, but never substituted Masonry for Christianity:
"Brother Bird was an active, zealous, and faithful minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In the stormy period from 1861 to 1866, when other Churches were rent asunder, he, in the true spirit of a devoted Christian and Mason, 'spread the cement of brotherly love and affection over the surface of society--that cement which unites us in one sacred band'--and he died leaving his Church a unit, 'keeping the unity of the spirit and in the bonds of peace.' In view of this sad dispensation of Providence we recommend the adoption of the following resolutions."
Six resolutions follow, of which I extract the third and fourth:
"3. Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with his bereaved widow and sorrowing children, and tender them a wide space in our feelings and affections.
"4. Resolved, That we offer our condolence to his shepherdless flock, and join with a smitten community in mourning the death of one beloved, trusted, and revered by us all."
I add, also, from a leader in the Banner of August 5, 1871, in relation to the death of Dr. Bird:
"Truly a pillar of the Church has fallen, but, thank God, the superstructure remains in its majesty and strength. It defies the power of time, and the devices of man. Well said the prophet, 'I have set watchmen upon they walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night.' In the heat of action a leader falls; instantly another, from the staff or ranks, assumes command. The battle goes on. So in the Christian warfare; a strong man may be stricken down, and the people, in grief and sorrow, may be ready to despond; but they may rest assured that the Lord will provide, that his standard will be borne full high and onward by other hands, and that final victory is sure. The fall of a captain of the host may call for greater devotion, for greater sacrifices on the part of the survivors, yet, as of old, champions will be raised up in God's own time, and the army of the Lord will continue to march steadily on from conquest to conquest.
"Dr. Bird was no ordinary man, as the many and various positions of prominence he occupied in the Church in the course of his ministry fully testify. As a writer of note, and of marked ability, he is known to the whole Church. The amount of work which he performed in his career was immense. His industry was indefatigable. His wisdom, his correct judgment, his well-tempered views on all subjects pertaining to the welfare and progress of the Church, made him a trusted leader and a safe counselor. In our judicatories the vacancy caused by his death will be deeply felt. May his mantle fall on one worthy to fill his place!"
The following is from the Cumberland Presbyterian of August 4, 1871:
"Two notes this morning are at hand bringing us the sad intelligence of the death of the venerable father, Dr. Bird. This will send a thrill of sadness through the whole Church. Dr. Bird had served faithfully his allotted time, and we should not arraign the Providence that admits him to his crown, which is studded with many stars."
[Source: Beard, Richard. Brief Biographical Sketches of Some of the Early Ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Second Series. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1874, pages 339-355]
Pleasant Hill (Cumberland Presbyterian) Congregation. The
following, taken from the minutes
of this church, gives the causes that brought it into existence:
"Shortly after the camp-meeting held in Morris township,
Washington Co., Pa., in the fall of 1831, by
A. M. Bryan, J. Morgan, Alexander Chapman, R. Burrow, and R. Donnell, missionaries of the General
Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In the early part of October of the same year
another was held by A. M. Bryan, R. Burrow, and R. Donnell, in Amwell township of the county and
State above, in the grove on the farm of Abel Millikin.
"The number professing reconciliation to God at this meeting
was estimated at one hundred. After this,
from time to time, by M. Bird and A. M. Bryan, meetings were held in the neighborhood, principally at
the house of A. Millikin. In the early part of 1832 a second camp-meeting was held in the grove before
mentioned by William Harris, Alexander Chapman, S. M. Aston, M. Bird, and A. M. Bryan. At this
meeting there were so many cases of awakening and conversions, though not so many as at the first.
From this camp-meeting the different ministers who occasionally preached in the neighborhood
received, baptized, and enrolled the names of persons up to Jan. 22, 1833, who were then regularly
organized into a congregation called "Pleasant Hill."
At the organization the following persons were chosen ruling
elders: Joseph Evans, Abner Clark, and
Abel Milliken, and were ordained by the Rev. John Morgan. The church is at present under the care of
the Rev. Luther Axtell. Worship is held in a neat brick edifice not far distant from Clarkstown.
[Source: Boyd Crumrine, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882).
--Mrs. Elizabeth A. Bird, widow of the renowned Dr. Milton Bird, died at her home, near the Bethlehem church, Caldwell County, Ky., June 14, 1897. Mrs. Bird had lived in that community 33 years and had the affection of all who knew her. She lived in sight of the church to which Dr. Bird ministered until his death, in 1871. Her life was a most beautiful one, and in death it seemed that a foretaste of the glorious beyond was given her. She was buried beside Dr. Bird in the Bethlehem graveyard.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, July 1, 1897, page 1688]
BIRD.--Mrs. Eisabeth [sic] A. Bird was born in
Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Feb. 15, 1815. Joined the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church in Uniontown, Penn., 1833. Was married to
Dr. Milton Bird, then a young man and pastor of the church to
when she belonged in 1834. They came to Kentucky in 1855 and with
only a few years' intermission have lived in the Bethlehem neighborhood
ever since. Mrs. Bird has lived in sight of the church to which
Dr. Bird ministered since 1864, and during all these years has
lived a consecrated Christian life. She passed away June 14th,
after a year's illness. Hers was a beautiful life and a triumphant
J. P. HALSELL.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, July 8, 1897, page 31]
Bird, Milton. The Doctrines of Grace, as Revealed in the Gospel, or Medium Theology in Familiar Lectures, Being a Revised and Enlarged Edition of "Error Unmaked," First Published at Pittsburg, Pa., in 1844, in Reply to Dr. A.G. Fairchild's "Great Supper." Louisville: J. F. Brennan, 1856.
Bird, Milton. Error Unmasked; Or a Plain Statement and Defence of Some of the Doctrines of the Gospel, in Familiar Lectures. Pittsburgh: Printed by A. A. Anderson, 1844.
Bird, Milton. The Life of Rev. Alexander Chapman. Nashville, Tenn.: Published for the Author by W.E. Dunaway, 1872.
Bird Family Information